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How to Pick an Accredited RN College near Bessemer Alabama

Bessemer Alabama RN checking patient with stethoscopeFinding the best nursing program near Bessemer AL may feel like a challenging endeavor, particularly if you aren't sure what to search for in a good degree program. As you may presently understand, for you to practice as a registered nurse, you need to receive the proper education and training to become licensed. So it is critically important that you research and measure the qualifications of each program you are considering before enrolling in your final selection. Regrettably, too many potential students base their decision solely on the price of tuition and the distance of the school. Selecting the least costly program or the one that is local to your residence is probably not the most reliable way to decide on a nursing program. There are several key additional aspects to check into before you decide where to enroll in classes. But before we examine that checklist, let's first look at the nursing degree options that are available along with what the roles of nurses are in our health system.

Registered Nurse Job Activities

Bessemer Alabama RN reading vital signs of elderly woman

Registered nurses are the most extensive occupation in the medical delivery system. RNs practice in a large number of different medical environments, including Bessemer AL hospitals, private practices, outpatient clinics, nursing homes and even schools. Their primary job is to support doctors in the care of their patients. Having said that, the particular duties of a registered nurse will be dependent on their job or specialization in addition to where they work. A few of the responsibilities of an RN may include:

  • Providing medications
  • Observing patients
  • Performing physical examinations
  • Managing care
  • Managing LPNs, LVNs and nurse aides
  • Instructing patients and their families
  • Maintaining health records and charts

Nurses with a more advanced degree may have more complex job duties and responsibilities. Nurse practitioners (NP), as an example, must hold a Master's Degree and generally work more independently than their RN counterparts. They can deliver primary or specialty care services, prescribe medications, and diagnose and treat routine illnesses or injuries.

Nursing School Degrees

There are multiple degrees offered to become a nurse. And to become a Registered Nurse (RN), a student must enroll in an accredited school and program. A nursing student can obtain a qualifying degree in as little as 2 years, or advance to earn a graduate degree for a total of 6 years. Following are some short summaries of the nursing degrees that are offered to aspiring students in the Bessemer AL area.

  • Associates Degree. The Associate Degree in Nursing (ADN) is usually a 2 year program offered by community colleges. It preps graduates for an entry level job in nursing in healthcare facilities including hospitals, clinics or nursing homes. Many use the ADN as an entry into nursing and ultimately earn a more advanced degree.
  • Bachelor's Degree. The Bachelor of Science in Nursing (BSN) supplies more extensive training than the ADN. It is commonly a four year program offered at colleges and universities. Licensed RNs may be allowed to complete an accelerated program based on their prior training or degree and professional experience (RN to BSN). Those applying to the program may want to advance to a clinical or administrative position, or be more competitive in the job market.
  • Master's Degree. The Master of Science in Nursing (MSN) is commonly a 2 year program after acquiring the BSN. The MSN program offers specialization training, for example to become a nurse practitioner or focus on administration, management or teaching.

After a graduating student has acquired one of the above degrees, she or he must pass the National Council Licensure Examination for Registered Nurses (NCLEX-RN) in order to become licensed. Other requirements for licensing change from state to state, so don't forget to get in touch with the Alabama board of nursing for any state mandates.

Nursing Online Degrees

Bessemer Alabama RN holding medical chartEnrolling in nursing programs online is becoming a more favored way to obtain training and attain a nursing degree. Some schools will require attending on campus for part of the training, and almost all programs require a certain amount of clinical rotation hours conducted in a local healthcare facility. But since the remainder of the training can be accessed online, this method may be a more accommodating answer to finding the time to attend classes for some Bessemer AL students. Regarding tuition, a number of online degree programs are less expensive than other on campus options. Even additional expenses such as for commuting and study materials can be minimized, helping to make education more easily affordable. And many online programs are accredited by organizations like the Commission on Collegiate Nursing Education (CCNE) for BSN and MSN degrees. Therefore if your job and family responsibilities have left you with limited time to work toward your academic goals, perhaps an online nursing program will make it easier to fit a degree into your active schedule.

Why Become a Nurse?

Nurses are an indispensable part of a Bessemer AL medical team, and for a number of patients, their primary care providers. A career in nursing opens doors to a number of opportunities, such as research, health care education and specialty areas of practice. Nurses go into the profession for many reasons, the most notable are its practical and personal advantages. Nurses provide personal, one-on-one care to patients. Most individuals in a medical facility or home care setting spend more time with nurses than with physicians. Nurses commonly choose the profession due to a passion to tend to the needs of patients, including in cases of short-term treatment of illness and prolonged care of chronic ailments. This human aspect of the medical profession, rather than the analytical or research related facets, is attractive to many who decide to enter into a career in nursing. Nurses have a wide range of applicable skills and can select from a variety of work environments, including home care facilities, physician's offices, medical clinics, community centers and hospitals. Also, nurses can progress into a number of specializations, such as substance addictions, critical care, neonatology and genetics. Although most nurses deliver direct patient care, others elect to be teachers, policy advisers and pharmaceutical representatives.

What to Ask Nursing Colleges

Nurse reading with Bessemer Alabama nursing home patientOnce you have chosen which nursing degree to pursue, along with whether to attend your classes on campus near Bessemer AL or online, you can use the following guidelines to start narrowing down your options. As you undoubtedly are aware, there are many nursing schools and colleges throughout Alabama and the United States. So it is important to reduce the number of schools to select from so that you will have a manageable list. As we previously pointed out, the site of the school as well as the price of tuition are undoubtedly going to be the primary two factors that you will consider. But as we also emphasized, they should not be your sole qualifiers. So before making your final selection, use the following questions to evaluate how your pick measures up to the other schools.

  • Accreditation. It's a good idea to make sure that the degree or certificate program as well as the school is accredited by a U.S. Department of Education recognized accrediting organization. In addition to helping confirm that you obtain a quality education, it may help in securing financial aid or student loans, which are oftentimes not available for non-accredited schools.  Also, many Bessemer AL area healthcare employers require that new hires have graduated from an accredited school.
  • Licensing Preparation. Licensing requirements for registered nurses vary from state to state. In all states, a passing score is needed on the National Council Licensure Examination (NCLEX-RN) together with graduation from an accredited school. Certain states require a specified number of clinical hours be performed, as well as the passing of additional tests. It's imperative that the school you are enrolled in not only provides a top-notch education, but also prepares you to comply with the minimum licensing standards for Alabama or the state where you will be working.
  • Reputation. Look at internet rating services to see what the assessments are for each of the schools you are considering. Ask the accrediting organizations for their reviews too. In addition, get in touch with the Alabama school licensing authority to check out if there are any complaints or compliance issues. Finally, you can contact some Bessemer AL healthcare organizations you're interested in working for after graduation and ask what their judgments are of the schools as well.
  • Graduation and Job Placement Rates. Find out from the RN colleges you are looking at what their graduation rates are as well as how long on average it takes students to complete their programs. A low graduation rate may be an indication that students were displeased with the program and dropped out. It's also imperative that the schools have high job placement rates. A high rate will not only confirm that the school has a good reputation within the Bessemer AL medical community, but that it also has the network of contacts to help students attain a position.
  • Internship Programs. The most effective way to acquire experience as a registered nurse is to work in a clinical setting. Virtually all nursing degree programs require a specified number of clinical hours be completed. A number of states have minimum clinical hour requirements for licensing too. Check if the schools have associations with Bessemer AL hospitals, clinics or labs and assist with the positioning of students in internships.

Find Out More About Enrolling in Nursing Classes in Bessemer

Choose the Right Alabama RN School

Selecting the ideal nursing program is perhaps the most important phase to launching a new career in the medical care field. There are a number of factors that you must consider when selecting a nursing school. These factors will be prioritized differently depending on your current career goals, lifestyle, and economic status. As we have stressed in this article, it is important that you choose a nursing school and a degree program that are both accredited and have outstanding reputations within the medical community. By utilizing our list of qualifying questions, you will be able to produce a short list of schools to pick from so that you can make your ultimate selection. And with the right degree and training, combined with your dedication and desire to succeed, you can become a practicing nurse in Bessemer Alabama.


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